19th Mar 2018

English at risk as official EU language

  • Huebner: EU rules need to be changed for English to become an EU official once the UK leaves (Photo: epp group)

A senior MEP has said English would be dropped as an EU official language once the UK leaves the bloc, unless rules are changed.

"If we don't have the UK, we don't have English," Polish centre-right MEP Danuta Huebner told reporters in Brussels on Monday (27 June).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Huebner chairs the European Parliament's committee on constitutional affairs (AFCO). The committee oversees the parliament's role on the UK's exit from the European Union.

Speaking in English, Huebner said EU rules allow member state to notify only one official language each, not two or more.

English is spoken in Malta and Ireland. But Malta notified Maltese as an official EU language and Ireland notified Gaelic as its official language. Only the UK had requested English.

Huebner said the rules are outlined in article 342 of the Treaty, which is based on a regulation that dates back to 1958.

But the rules cited by Huebner are not entirely explicit.

Article eight of the 1958 regulation notes that "if a member state has more than one official language, the language to be used shall, at the request of such state, be governed by the general rules of its law."

Some lawyers may have a different interpretation.

But Huebner said it meant that Malta or Ireland cannot also request English as an official language without first making a change to the EU rulebook.

She said any change would require a unanimous decision in the EU Council.

Huebner said she was confident all remaining EU states would endorse the rule change to accommodate English, which is also the main working language among the EU institutions.

"I personally believe that we will find unanimity to change the rule on this ... and then we will have from the Irish not only Gaelic but also English or from the Maltese not only Maltese but also English," she said.

EU will not press UK for immediate exit talks

EU leaders say there is a "very significant crisis" in the UK. At a summit on Tuesday, they will not press the British prime minister to trigger the procedure to leave the EU.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework